Deep respect for history and tradition in the face of growth and change, all wrapped in abiding love for town, for neighbor, for family. These themes underscore the 18 stories of Our Town: Scituate, part of the ongoing Rhode Island PBS community project. Rhode Island PBS proudly premieres the 11th documentary in the series on Wednesday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Last summer, neighbors in Scituate became storytellers and filmmakers to capture the stories they wanted to tell in Our Town: Scituate. Eighteen stories have been woven together into a visual tapestry of nostalgia, humor, enterprise, history – even a surprise or two – all representing life in Scituate through the eyes of those who know and love it. Scituate residents and friends involved in the production will also be in the studio during the premiere to share their experiences working on the project, and answer phones during this fundraising special to benefit Rhode Island PBS.
“We are pleased to present the stories of Scituate to all of Rhode Island,” said David W. Piccerelli, president of WSBE Rhode Island PBS. “Beyond sharing these local stories for residents, viewers all across southeastern New England discover new facts and histories about the town’s many neighborhoods and villages.”
Stories in Our Town: Scituate include:
Dexter Pond: For generations, Scituate residents have enjoyed the simple outdoor pleasures of fishing, skating, or simply going for a stroll at Dexter Pond. Many have visited this scenic location just off Danielson Pike, but very few know the story behind it. In this touching story, the family that owns the land shares their reasons for opening the pond to the public, and pays tribute to their uncle who was killed during World War II.
Generations: Major transformations are underway at the Scituate Senior Center. As “Generations at the Chopmist Hill Inn” moves into the next phase of its revitalization plan, learn more about the history of the building and the people who call it home.
Gentian Garden Club: Firmly rooted in the community for more than 85 years, the Gentian Garden Club was organized by twelve Scituate residents in the 1930s. Named after a rare flower found by one of the women during a walk in town, the club still meets regularly and is responsible for dozens of beautification projects around town.
Gleaner Gardens: One man’s love of horticulture made quite the impression on Gleaner Chapel Road. The current residents found his work so amazing that they revived his gardens and opened the property up to the public for many years. Take a tour of Gleaner Gardens and hear from the new owners about their labor of love.
Herbert Howard Merritt, Jr: In this segment, a century’s worth of history is told by the man who has lived through it all. Herbert Merritt, Jr. is nearing his 100th birthday, and he knows more about the town of Scituate than most. With a clear, sharp memory, he shares stories from his earliest days in town. Merritt’s conversation is captured on film by a neighbor who takes the time to listen to this World War II veteran with incredible stories to tell.
High School History: Scituate did not have a public high school until 1956. Now, a group of current high school students are curious about the roots and beginnings of their town’s school system. Follow their journey back in time as they learn more about the earliest schools in town, and about how population distribution played a key role in the construction of their new high school.
Hope Village: Preserved in the National Register of Historic Places, Hope Village is one of the longest-standing mill settlements in the town of Scituate. Once a major hub for textile production, the village has a proud history of contributing to the American Industrial Revolution. Learn more about the people of Hope, the landmarks of their community, and influential events from their past and present.
Lawton Farm: Perfect for recreationalists and nature enthusiasts alike, Lawton Farm offers 55 acres of grassland, open space, walking trails, and animal habitats for the public to enjoy. Discover the sights and sounds of local wildlife while taking a trip through the property, and hear from the family who once called this farm their home.
Love & Service: A lifelong resident of Scituate, Skye Pechie has spent decades giving back to the local community. She and her husband Steve share their story of love and service, detailing the many ways in which they volunteer and work for the betterment of their town.
The Round Family: The Round family has been an integral part of Scituate for generations. Many members of the family have been known for their involvement in the community, owning local businesses, participating in town politics, and holding administrative positions. One member of the Round family is sharing his family’s legacy, offering insight on the merits of local involvement, ingenuity, and adaptability.
Sarah’s Story: The Scituate Reservoir is one of the most recognizable landmarks in town. But underneath its placid surface lies a history of tragedy, loss, and heartache. At the time of its construction, hundreds of families were forced to relocate and forfeit their homes to make room for the reservoir. This is the story of one woman’s fight for what was rightfully hers, as told by a documentarian who has studied these uprooted families for years.
The Scituate Art Festival: For more than 50 years, the Scituate Art Festival has been a staple of Columbus Day Weekend. What started as a local fundraiser with only a handful of participants has grown into a nationally-recognized art show that attracts more than 200 artists annually. In this segment, experience the sights and sounds of this extraordinary celebration of art and culture.
The Scituate Reservoir: Supplying much of the state’s clean drinking water, the impact of the Scituate Reservoir can be felt across Rhode Island. Join a representative from Providence Water on a historic journey back in time to explain the circumstances of the reservoir’s founding, the importance of its function, and how it continues to affect the local community.
Seagrave Memorial Observatory: The open fields of Scituate are prime real estate for stargazing. This is the story of Skyscrapers, Inc., an astronomical society created in the early 1930s by Brown University professor Charles Smiley. To this day, the group conducts research from the Seagrave observatory. Find out why the property was the perfect headquarters for investigating the mysteries of space.
State Police Museum: Three former Rhode Island State Troopers take us inside the State Police Museum and share stories from their time on the force. Having made a lifelong commitment to protect and serve the residents of Rhode Island, they carry an untold burden from their years of service. Still, they remain dedicated to their department and hope to preserve their legacy for generations to come.
The Town Clock: No need for a watch – the time of day is always displayed prominently on Main Street in Scituate. The town clock has been a local landmark for decades, and while it may bear the weathered markings of old age, it has a special meaning for many locals. One lifelong resident shares the story of its origin, tells us about the man who brought it to town, and explains the significance of the clock in his life.
Town History: This story delves into an abbreviated history of Scituate, as delivered by its own residents. Beginning with the town’s earliest settlers and the origin of the name “Scituate,” the segment covers the history of manufacturing in town, some local landmarks, a host of local events, and the creation of the Scituate Reservoir.
Wood Ducks: Each year beginning in February, dozens of wood ducks land at Pine Swamp to nest and raise their young. Two local residents have been supporting these birds and tracking their habits, taking note of their movements and migration patterns. Take a rare, firsthand look inside the nest of a wood duck and watch the miracle of birth as their babies hatch.
ABOUT OUR TOWN
Part fund-raiser, part community builder, part historical and cultural documentary, and part “day-in-the-life” video scrapbook, Our Town: Scituate is the 11th documentary in the Our Town series. The purpose of Our Town is to share the charm and character of Rhode Island towns and villages - in particular, untold or uncelebrated stories that capture the essence of life in the town. Building community by enhancing connections and relationships between Rhode Island PBS and town residents, the stories are told by resident storytellers and videographers, who choose the stories they want to tell about their town. The role of Rhode Island PBS is to offer technical advice and then stitch together the stories into a one-hour film. Next in the series will be Our Town: South Kingstown, about to begin production and set to premiere in December 2020.
For information about joining the Rhode Island PBS Our Town project, visit ripbs.org/our-town, or call Jodi Mesolella (project director) at 401-222-3636, extension 209, Nicole Muri (producer) at extension 225, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits high-definition (HD) content over the air on digital 36.1; Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; Comcast 819HD (check local Comcast listings for standard definition channels) and MA Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36, Dish Network 36.
ABOUT RHODE ISLAND PBS
WSBE Rhode Island PBS is operated by the Rhode Island PBS Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. WSBE Rhode Island PBS is a viewer-supported member of the PBS network of public broadcasting stations, and uses the power of noncommercial media to educate, engage, enrich, inspire, and entertain viewers of all ages in Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and eastern Connecticut since 1967. WSBE-TV delivers content on two channels, Rhode Island PBS (digital 36.1) and Learn (digital 36.2). For more information about programs and education services at WSBE, visit www.ripbs.org.